Christians, we are told, are supposed to live a new life in Christ.
Most have no idea what that means, which, of course, doesn’t stop them from saying it, but they can’t ever explain it.
In the end, what is the difference between the life of a non-Christian and one who is living the life of Christ in them?
All people, whether Christ is in them or not, will have to do many similar things. Christ-in-you doesn’t mean you don’t have to eat, sleep, work, get sick, etc. But there should be a difference. Here’s my attempt at succinctly summing up how living the new life in Christ looks different from those still living the Old Life.
We have to start here. Without love, doing good profits you nothing. Again, this is a swell thing to say, but what does it mean? I will define what it means by showing what it doesn’t mean:
a. Self-promotion–everyone is vying for your attention wanting to sell you something or get you to join their cause. Many of these sales and causes are fine, but their primary motive is self. Much of their outreach is nothing more than networking. Love seeks not its own
b. Money–many do good deeds, but many do it to make money. “Charitable” organizations are becoming well-known for using most of their funds to pay staff and doing very little good otherwise.
c. Guilt. There are many people who will volunteer and donate to stuff, but guilt seems to be why. They are working off sin, or trying to be impressive, or to feel better about themselves. “I just feel so good after volunteering.” Fine, but are you loving others, or just going for the moral high?
Doing things out of love means you are not interested primarily in what you will gain from it. When love is done right, I believe you will gain from it, but gain is not your primary driving force.
Holiness doesn’t mean living in a cloistered environment staying unspotted from “the world.” Holiness does mean “separation,” but we must understand the separation rightly. Paul says we were not called to avoid sinners, if we were we’d have to leave the world. There is much of the world’s stuff we need to get rid of. Entertainment, I am coming to see, is one of the major areas we need to show holiness. Be not unequally yoked in any relationship. Put off sin. This is not done by living in a hole, but by living in the world, and yet being sanctified to God, set apart, a vessel used for honor. It’s a big issue!
Self-denial is one of the main attributes of one who is no longer living his life but the life of Christ. It’s not about you. That being the case, your fleshly appetites don’t run the show. You can resist temptation. You can demonstrate bodily subjection. Your life is not up and down, but relatively constant emotionally. You aren’t constantly digging holes for yourself to fall into. Your money is handled well. Your burdens are being well carried by yourself, but you are also not afraid to ask for help when you realize life is too big.
4. Edifying Words
A man who can control his tongue has a perfect religion, says James. Amen to that! The Bible is filled with verses about the words coming out of your mouth. Your words are grace, they are a gift, they edify, and help. Filthy communication is gone. Coarse jesting is out. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If Christ is in your heart, Christlike words will come out of your mouth, speaking the truth in love.
No man can serve God and mammon. If your priorities in life clearly show your main concern is making money, the life of Christ is not in you. Christ was not one wit concerned about money. The love of money is the root of all evil. Money is a thing; loving money (also known as covetousness, which is idolatry) makes the thing into a sin. Don’t fool yourself on this one. It is impossible for a rich man to enter heaven. Don’t play games here. Friendship with the world is enmity with God.
Christ was a man of sorrow acquainted with grief. Anyone who desires to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. We lay down our bodies as living sacrifices. We rejoice in tribulation and in suffering, knowing it is trying our faith and developing Christlike character. We, by the Spirit, become “long-suffering!” The world lives to avoid suffering; the one with Christ life seeks suffering, rejoices in suffering, and isn’t really all that troubled by it personally.
I’ll stop there for brevity’s sake. Most of “life in Christ” is summed up by the fruit of the Spirit. By the Beatitudes.
Note that the list above said nothing about homosexuals, abortionists, murderers, pot smokers, and other pet sins Christians like to hammer. Stopping sin is part of all this, but honestly, there are people not doing “huge” sins who still aren’t living the life of Christ.
Living the life of Christ isn’t so much about what you’re not doing (although that certainly is part of it), but it’s mostly seen by what you are doing.
This is a huge subject. This is only a beginning point of an explanation. Yes, I left out plenty, but I do think these are central issues to living as a new creation in Christ Jesus.
The point is not to make this into a checklist and go do this. The point is to know Christ. Ask for the Spirit’s help. Don’t rely on your abilities to pull this off. Look to Christ, don’t fixate on you. If you don’t have the Spirit, none of this is possible.
You must be born again. The list above is what it looks like to be born again, to have new life in Christ Jesus. Get it and live it.